‘Diablo 4’ Steam Deck Review – Amazingly Portable (Update) – TouchArcade

By admin Dec 26, 2023

Update: With the recent Steam release of Diablo 4 and its new Season, I wanted to update my review from a few months ago to accurately cover the current game experience, how it is on Steam Deck, and more. While the game’s campaign is still excellent, the first season was rough with its balance. Diablo 4’s Season of Blood (Season 2) and the current state of the game are both in a state where I’m comfortable recommending the game again. When I originally covered Diablo 4, it also required sideloading Battle.net to get the game running on Steam Deck. Now, it is available on Steam to just buy and download directly. The game also runs a bit better, and thanks to shaders from Valve, it is a smoother experience.

Going through parts of the campaign again to help my friend get through it for the first time has gotten me to enjoy bits of it even more now. One specific scene towards the end of the story remains a highlight for Blizzard’s cinematic team as well. It reminds me of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. The quality of life improvements to inventory are also welcome. In a lot of ways, this is how Diablo 4 should’ve launched for its post-game and in general.

If you missed the news from around its launch on the platform, Diablo 4 is Steam Deck Verified and the only real caveat is that it is an online-only game. To revisit the game for its Steam launch, I resumed an older character and started a new seasonal character on my PS5 and Steam Deck. Progress syncs seamlessly across both, and Diablo 4 just feels perfect on Deck. As such, my score will not change as it currently is still a 4.5/5 experience. The original review based on the game’s launch and Battle.net version is below.

Original review from launch: I hadn’t played a Diablo game until Diablo 3 hit PS4 and a close friend convinced me to get it to play in co-op. I ended up enjoying that quite a bit, and have since bought Diablo 3 on every platform to replay over time. The Switch version is by far my favorite way to play Diablo 3, so I was a bit disappointed that Diablo 4 was not only not coming to Switch for launch, but also to not see it on Steam. I hadn’t invested any effort into trying to get third party launchers on Steam Deck, but Diablo 4 was the push I needed. In the time I’ve spent with it, Diablo 4 joins Dead Cells and Hades as “Perfect for Steam Deck” despite the few issues it has.

Before getting to the actual Diablo 4 Steam Deck review, I’m going to emphasize that Battle.net is not officially supported on Steam Deck and Blizzard does not officially support the platform. I only decided to do this review after getting Battle.net working and setting things up in minutes, and having tested it twice to verify things are easy and simple. This resulted in an amazingly fun Diablo 4 experience that I’ve enjoyed for more than 55 hours across Steam Deck and Xbox Series X with full cross progression and online play. I got it running through this amazing guide from MonroeWorld on YouTube. I’d recommend watching that if you aren’t familiar with getting Battle.net installed on Steam Deck.

After getting Battle.net running and installing Diablo 4 (without the high resolution texture pack), I was floored at how good it felt to play, and also how well it ran for the most part. The main areas I ran into performance issues or stutter were in the towns with a lot of other players around you. Dungeons, strongholds, exploration, story moments, and just general combat hold up brilliantly on Steam Deck with the settings I used. While some might want to opt for 60fps by turning things down, I couldn’t get a stable 60fps at all, so I set the Steam Deck screen refresh rate to 40hz and played with a 40fps target. I was very happy with this blend of settings based on the medium preset with FSR helping a lot.

Since Diablo 4, unlike Diablo 3, has full controller support, there are no control issues on Steam Deck. The font scaling and native 800p support make Diablo 4 shine on Steam Deck even though it hasn’t launched on Steam and is on a system that isn’t officially supported by Blizzard. I played Diablo 3 and Diablo 2 Resurrected on a controller, so I had no trouble playing Diablo 4 on Steam Deck. In fact, having the same positions for face buttons on Steam Deck and Xbox Series X made this feel like a perfect complement to the home console version. This obviously requires two purchases, but I will get to that in a bit.

Since the Steam Deck is a portable system and Diablo 4 is an online-only game, I wanted to make sure I test it when played outside the house. I went to my favorite coffee shop and tethered my Steam Deck to my phone hotspot. With this setup, I played through a few dungeons with friends and had no connection issues. The only time I ran into any issues here were in towns with other players loading in. I’m not sure if this is network related or just the game itself, but the frame rate was more stable in busier boss fights in dungeons and strongholds with a lot of enemies and effects.

Speaking of online-only, Diablo 4 has had the best launch of any Blizzard game in recent years. I expected a mess like the launch of Overwatch 2, but I’ve only had 2 disconnects and two instances of server-related issues in over 55 hours of playing across two different platforms. When I learned Diablo 4 was online-only, I joked about how the launch would be miserable, but here we are. Blizzard proved they can handle it for the most part. I just hope it gets updated to fix the few glitches I’ve run into with NPCs stuck in animations or in the geometry.

Now, Diablo 4 itself is fantastic. It isn’t perfect mind you, but feels like everything I wanted from a follow-up to Diablo 3, with its superb combat, excellent gameplay loop, loot, and its stunning visuals and art direction. I’m definitely going to buy a full artbook if Blizzard releases one for Diablo 4. The character designs, enemies, and cut-scene direction are a lot better than I expected. On the audio side, it delivered in spades with its memorable soundtrack and superlative voice acting. Caroline Faber, Steve Blum, and Gabe Kunda are highlights for the main characters alongside Andrew Morgado who voiced the Druid that I played.

Speaking of the Druid, while I spent time in the beta as a Barbarian, I specifically chose a Druid for my first full game character because I wanted to try out a class I hadn’t played before, and also see some particle effects to push the Steam Deck. I ended up loving the Druid builds I used and experimenting with quite a few options in my campaign playthrough. The campaign has a few moments that feel like padding where you spend too much time walking between objectives, but I’m impressed with the open world Blizzard has created here, and how much you are rewarded for exploration. The level scaling is something you may or may not like though, but how Blizzard handles balancing when you play with friends is excellent.

This Diablo 4 Steam Deck review aims to help a few kinds of potential buyers. The first is those who have Diablo 4 on PC already, and are wondering if the effort of getting it running on Steam Deck is worth it. The answer is an easy yes. The second group is those who want to play Diablo 4 on a console, but are wondering if it is worth buying Diablo 4 on PC again to play on Steam Deck. This depends on if you like what you’ve played of the game on console. I’d say buy it on PlayStation or Xbox and play for a few hours to see how you feel. The final group is those who only are considering buying Diablo 4 to play on Steam Deck and nothing else. As of this writing, I can recommend it, but because of how things might change with updates, my answer might vary. Assuming nothing changes with compatibility, I will recommend Diablo 4 on PC to play on Steam Deck. It feels amazing on the handheld.

Diablo 4 also launches with an in-game shop that has free-to-play tier in-game currency bundles available, but as of this writing, you can only buy items that are cosmetic. The battle pass is not available right now, so I cannot comment on that. The in-game store right now reminds me of how Ubisoft handles Assassin’s Creed Valhalla cosmetics, but I’m not a fan of how most of the ones in the Diablo 4 shop look. It isn’t great to see these in a $70 game though, but that ship has sadly sailed a while ago. I can only review what was available to play right now, and not potential future issues, so keep that in mind.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I should even spend time trying to get Diablo 4 running on Steam Deck, but enjoying Diablo 3 on Switch as much as I did pushed me to test this out on Steam Deck. Setting things up was simple, and Diablo 4 is a joy to play on Steam Deck with barely any additional work needed. The game itself is fantastic, and I’ve enjoyed my time with it solo and with friends on Steam Deck and Xbox Series X since launch.

I’m not a fan of it being online-only, but barring that, Diablo 4 is brilliant, and I hope Blizzard releases the soundtrack on vinyl soon. Diablo 4 feels like a game Blizzard made to show it still has it. I adored Diablo 3, Hearthstone, and the first two years of Overwatch, but never really clicked much with the publisher’s releases since. Diablo 4 is a true Blizzard home run, and one I look forward to playing for years to come. Even in its current state, it is a massive win, and a superb base to build on.

Diablo 4 Steam Deck Score: 4.5/5

Note: Given how things can change on Steam Deck with updates, the OS itself, and third party games, consider this review and all performance information as valid and tested (on two Steam Decks) as of the time it was published. With Diablo 4 in particular, it is a third party launcher and those sometimes break with Steam Deck system updates.

Interested in more Steam Deck coverage? Check out our Steam Deck recommendations!

By admin

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